In India, relationships are very important and have been since the Vedic age. They are very important to us and comprise a big part of our lives. How we get along with others greatly impacts how our lives turn out. Relationships aren’t just a set-up; they’re part of who we are and affect us at every point in our lives.
Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
The name of the Hindu festival that honours the bond comes from two words: Raksha and Bandhan. In Sanskrit, the word for this event is “the tie or knot of protection,” where “Raksha” means “protection” and “Bandhan” means “to tie.” Together, the holiday is a sign of the everlasting love between brothers and sisters, which does not just mean blood ties. It is also a holiday for cousins, sisters, sisters-in-law (Bhabhi), aunts and nephews (Bua and Bhatija), and other close family members.
Raksha Bandhan 2023 Date
Raksha Bandhan is marked on Purnima, or the day of the full moon, in Shravan. The next Raksha Bandhan will be on August 30, 2023.
Why is Raksha Bandhan celebrated?
In India, people put a lot of value on their connections. The bond between a brother and a sister is among the most important. It is one of the few ties where the bond is more than just a way to help each other. A brother and sister share a link of truth, holiness, and love that doesn’t change.
In India, there is a whole festival about this friendship and how beautiful and important it is. This holiday is called Raksha Bandhan, or Rakhi for short. This is one of India’s most widely honoured holidays. On this day, almost everyone will have a wrist full of Rakhis. Let’s learn a little more about this beautiful holiday.
Significance of Raksha Bandhan
The Rakhi festival is important because it is marked on the last full moon of the Hindu month of Shravan, also called the Rakhi Purnima. Raksha Bandhan means “a bond of protection” in English. Rakhi is a charm that sisters tie around their brothers’ wrists. This amulet is meant to show that a brother and sister have a special bond. Sisters love their brothers, and in return, they get gifts and promises to be safe.
When it comes to Indian culture and customs, this festival is very important. In the past, this festival meant much more in places where strict exogamy was followed. There are still places like this in northern India. Parents don’t go to see their daughters’ homes since most are married and live in other towns. Daughters don’t get to go to their father’s house either.
Usually, they went to their father’s house a few days or weeks before Rakhi and stayed there until that day. Most of the time, brothers stayed with their parents; if they didn’t, they went to their house. Brothers were the link between their family and the family of their daughter. But in today’s world, these things are almost irrelevant, and this event is now more of a show than anything else.
Legends about Raksha Bandhan festival
People say that Raksha Bandhan has been around for hundreds of years, and there are many stories about how this special holiday came to be. Here are some of the different stories that are part of Hindu mythology:
Sachi and Indra Dev
According to the old story of Bhavishya Purana, gods, and demons once fought a fierce fight. Lord Indra, the main god of the sky, rain, and lightning, was fighting on the side of the Gods. However, the strong demon King Bali was giving him a hard time.
The war went on for a long time and never ended clearly. When Sachi, Indra’s wife, saw this, she went to Lord Vishnu, who gave her a holy cotton thread band. Sachi tied the sacred thread around her husband, Lord Indra’s wrist. In the end, Lord Indra beat the devils and took back Amaravati. In an older story about the festival, these holy threads were described as amulets that women used to pray with and that their husbands tied to when they went to war. Unlike today, these holy threads were not only between brothers and sisters.
God Lakshmi and King Bali
According to the Bhagavata Purana and the Vishnu Purana, when Lord Vishnu beat the demon King Bali and took over the three worlds, King Bali asked him to stay with him in his house. As he had asked, the Lord agreed to live with the demon king. But Lord Vishnu’s wife, Lakshmi, wanted to return to Vaikuntha, where he was born and raised. So, she put the rakhi on demon king Bali’s wrist and made him a brother. When Goddess Lakshmi asked about the return gift, she told Bali to let her husband out of the vow and let him go back to Vaikuntha. Bali agreed, so Lord Vishnu and his wife, Goddess Lakshmi, returned home.
It is said that Lord Ganesha’s two boys, Shubh and Labh, were upset that they didn’t have a sister. They asked their father for a sister, and when Saint Narada got involved, their father finally gave in. Lord Ganesha used the divine flames to make Santoshi Maa, which is how his two boys got their sister for Raksha Bandhan.
The Yamuna and the Yama
Another legend says that the dead God, Yama, did not visit his sister Yamuna for 12 years, who ultimately became very sad. On the advice of Ganga, Yama went to meet his sister Yamuna who has very happy and performed hospitality to her brother, Yama. This made the Yama delighted they asked the Yamuna for a gift. She said that she wanted to see her brother over and over again. Hearing this, Yama made his sister, Yamuna, immortal so that he could see her again and again. This mythological account forms the basis of a “Bhai Dooj” festival based on the brother-sister relationship.
Lord Krishna and Draupadi
This is the most popular legend behind rakhi and is mentioned in the great ancient epic, Mahabharata. Krishna accidentally hurt his finger with the Sudarshan Chakra. As a result, it started bleeding. Seeing this, Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, wasted no time and tore the corner of her Saari and bonded it to Krishna’s finger. Touched by the love and purity of Draupadi’s affection, Krishna granted her the promise of protection. Since that day, Rakhi has been celebrated as a promise of protection by the brother to her sister.
Evolution of Rakhi
The meaning of Rakhi has changed over time. It used to mean something very different than what it means now. Originally, Raksha Bandhan was a very happy holiday with a spiritual meaning. Today, cotton or silk threads are usually used to make amulets tied around the wrists of family members. The Bhavishya Purana also talks about this practice.
In this Purana, Krishna tells Yudhishthira what this day is all about. He also tells him in detail what needs to be done on this day. So, this event has been happening in India for a long time and is familiar.
But the way the holiday is marked has changed a lot over time. Slowly, it went from being a religious practice to a sign of love and safety. Sisters took over as priests and started tying amulets to their boys. As was already said, this holiday was very important for daughters because they could go to their father’s homes.
Slowly, this is also becoming a thing of the past. Pop culture and movies have greatly impacted how people think about and enjoy rakhi today. It almost no longer has any spiritual meaning at all. People have come up with new ways to enjoy Rakhi and have also used it to get things done that are important to them.
Rakhi is a holiday with a lot of importance. On this day, a seal of love and purity is put on the good bond between a brother and sister. It’s not just talking and giving things. It is an exchange of the feeling of love, the promise of security, and the bond of purity.